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Students meet Microsoft

June 8, 2015

Microsoft presentation

“Looking at Namibia via the lens of cybersecurity policy – it’s a world apart from what I knew when I started this research project,” said Daniel Chrisman, a graduating senior in international studies at the Jackson School.

Chrisman was one of nine Jackson School students who presented research on cyber infrastructure policy in Sub-Saharan Africa last week, on June 5, to Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group headquartered in Seattle.

Overseen by Jackson School Chair of International Programs Sara Curran, and managed by Faculty Adviser Jessica Beyer, this cybersecurity policy research project represented the culmination of eight weeks of in-depth research and several client briefings with Microsoft. Jackson School Director Reşat Kasaba and University of Washington Divisional Dean of Social Sciences Judy Howard, along with other faculty, also attended the presentation.

In opening the two-hour session, the students introduced the scope of the project and highlighted common trends affecting cybersecurity among all four case study countries of Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, and South Africa. This included an assessment of mobile over fixed broadband, demographic profiles, and corruption and governance.

Then several students representing the group presented country rankings and positive and negative trends in the information and communications technology sector, alongside relevant political, economic and social factors affecting cybersecurity policy, for each of the four countries.

“This research gives us a great roadmap and identifies where obstacles might be,” said Kevin Sullivan, principal security strategist with Microsoft’s global security strategy and diplomacy team.

Following the presentation, Microsoft employees and Jackson School students and faculty engaged in discussion on a range of issues, from cloud computing trends to how cybersecurity policy can push development efforts.

Jackson School student Chrisman added, “This is when you get a chance to comment on real-world policy that could potentially have implications, so you better cover your bases in research.”

The session was held at The Garage, a dedicated space on Microsoft’s main campus for Microsoft employees and interns to explore innovative ideas and turn them into reality.

This represented the third Jackson School Applied Research Project with Microsoft. Since 2010, the Jackson School’s International Studies Program has collaborated with local private sector clients like Microsoft and Starbucks, among others, on applied research projects that help inform strategic and innovative initiatives.

By Monique A. Thormann